The NY Times published a deep-dive into Michael Bloomberg’s record of philanthropy and how it has co-opted political support and pre-empted criticism of his politics and record. One important revelation is that when the Center for American Progress, led by Clinton champion, Neera Tanden, was preparing an important report on Islamophobia in America, Fear Inc 2.0, the authors wrote a 4,300-word chapter on NYPD spying on the city’s Muslim community. Note this was a signature policy of Bloomberg’s mayoralty which he repeatedly defended, along with the infamous “stop and frisk” policing tactic targeting New York’s communities of color.
A week before publication, CAP senior officials, worried about potential anger from major donor, Michael Bloomberg, told the authors they either had to substantially revise the chapter or remove it. Bloomberg had given the group $1.4-million up to that point and later added $400,000. Rather than dull the impact by editing it, they decided to censor themselves and remove it from the final version. One of the co-authors of the report was none other than current Bernie Sander’s foreign policy advisor, Matt Duss. He isn’t mentioned in the article and I’m sure he didn’t want to touch the story with a ten-foot pole. Though it has to be sweet revenge since he and most of the other co-authors were later fired because their politics were too outside the corporate Democratic consensus.
This, of course, isn’t the sole example of CAP tailoring its agenda to major donors. It’s written reports favorable to a number of donors including the United Arab Emirates. Its motto seems to be: “Think Tank for Sale.”
One of the signature tactics of Tanden is to relentlessly attack Bernie Sanders via social media. No doubt she still nurses a grudge that her gravy train, Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election and blames him for it.
Here, the Times exposes CAP’s cowardly bit of pre-emptive censorship:
That chilling effect was apparent in 2015 to researchers at the Center for American Progress, a liberal policy group, when they turned in a report on anti-Muslim bias in the United States. Their draft included a chapter of more than 4,000 words about New York City police surveillance of Muslim communities; Mr. Bloomberg was mentioned by name eight times in the chapter, which was reviewed by The Times.
When the report was published a few weeks later, the chapter was gone. So was any mention of Mr. Bloomberg’s name.
Yasmine Taeb, an author of the report, said in an interview that the authors had been instructed to make drastic revisions or remove the chapter, and opted to do the latter rather than “whitewash the N.Y.P.D.’s wrongdoings.” She said she found it “disconcerting” to be asked to remove the chapter “because of how it was going to be perceived by Mayor Bloomberg.”
Other officials at the center disputed that account, arguing that there had been substantive reasons to revise or remove a section on police surveillance in New York from a report commissioned to examine right-wing groups targeting Muslims with explicit bigotry and conspiracy theories.
“Any and all edits to this report were done solely based on editorial and policy considerations,” said a spokeswoman, Daniella Gibbs Léger. The center, she added, had produced other content addressing policing in New York, including a “critical, hard-hitting video” on department policies under Mr. Bloomberg. A spokesman for Mr. Bloomberg said his team was unaware of any dispute at the think tank.
But at least one senior official wrote at the time that there would be a “strong reaction from Bloomberg world if we release the report as written,” according to an email reviewed by The Times. And three people with direct knowledge of the situation said Mr. Bloomberg was a factor.
Alienating him might not have been a cost-free proposition. When the report came out, he had already given the organization three grants worth nearly $1.5 million, and in 2017 he contributed $400,000 more, according to Ms. Léger and the center’s limited public disclosure of its donors.
Ms. Taeb, who left the center after the report was published, recently entered politics in Virginia. Now a member of the Democratic National Committee, she said she received a minute-long voice mail from Mr. Bloomberg in December.
“He said he was calling to introduce himself as a courtesy and wanted to sit down with me to tell me why he’s running and why he has a chance,” Ms. Taeb said, “and what he’s done with the Democratic Party.”